The jinx of too much knowledge

“As you are all aware…”

Well I wasn’t but I was too embarrassed to say anything and within a minute the presenter had lost me, I had no idea what he was talking about yet he promised to make things crystal clear.

I was with a new client this week who was steeped in their way of doing things and the technical terms surrounding their operations. Their first conversation went straight over my head with all the technical jargon used. I needed to understand, so I pleaded with them to explain in layman’s terms, which they did.

It is a curse, a jinx, a major communication blunder when we know too much about a topic and assume that everyone else has a basic knowledge so we can add to this.

The message for sales people and sales managers? If you are the subject matter expert, then good for you, but spend time working out how to explain the basics so that everyone in can understand what you say. Here’s some ideas:

  • Use examples vigorously as these aid understanding
  • Break it down visually on a whiteboard
  • Go right back to basics
  • Check understanding with the group periodically
  • Find out your group’s pre-knowledge of the topic
  • Try to simplify everything – it won’t make you appear like a dunce – in fact it’s quite the opposite. It takes intelligence to make something that is complex appear simple. It’s far too easy to make something simple appear complex.

That’s the problem with having too much knowledge.